Published here as part of our ongoing look at the mythology and reality of Putin during the run-up to the presidential election. This is one of several lengthy interview conducted by PBS and used in part for its regrettably one-sided documentary Putin’s Revenge, which we featured here a while back. PBS have made the full interviews available online as part of their “media transparency project.” John Beyrle is a former US ambassador to Russia We think this interview in particular is worth watching in full.
Beyrle comes over as an intelligent observer of a different calibre to the profoundly ignorant and arrogant commentators we see in much Western mainstream media. Yet his group-think or institutional blindness is still very much on display.
He acknowledges the severe blow dealt to US/Russian relations by US abandonment of the ABM treaty. He acknowledges the encroachments of NATO. He acknowledges that Russia perceived US meddling in Georgia and Ukraine as a threat to their “near-abroad”.
Yet he still claims to find the cooling of relations between the two countries to be baffling, and views Putin’s famous 2007 Munich speech as being an arrogant assertion of independence rather than an almost inevitable, or at least predictable, result of the US actions he details.